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Hawaii Officials Confirm Fungal Tree Disease Found On Maui

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

WAILUKU — The first case on Maui of a deadly tree disease has been confirmed, Hawaii state officials said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources on Tuesday confirmed the presence of Rapid Ohia Death, The Maui News reported .

A single tree on private property in east Maui was afflicted with Ceratocystis huliohia, officials said.

"This one tree is located away from other ohia trees, so this appears to be an isolated case. It will be treated immediately by torching or burning it," said Lance DeSilva, Maui Forest Management Supervisor with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

On Maui, only Ceratocystis huliohia has been detected so far, according to state officials, who said it's the less aggressive strain of the fungal disease.

Rapid Ohia Death has impacted vast amounts of land and thousands of trees on Hawaii Island since its detection in 2014.

Ceratocystis huliohia and the more aggressive Ceratocystis lukuohia have been detected on the Big Island and Kauai.

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council website says both strains eventually lead to the death of the tree, the newspaper reported.

The strains are recognized as two distinct species with significantly different pathologies, the council said.

Quarterly aerial surveys are conducted on Maui to spot trees suspected of having the disease. Samples are normally taken from the ground and sent to a lab in Hilo for further testing, officials said.

The next Maui quarterly survey is scheduled to begin July 15.

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